Ballet flats may have reigned supreme a decade ago, but they're a rare sight these days. Except for the die-hard loyalists out there (Sofia Coppola, Alexa Chung, Karlie Kloss, Kate Bosworth), they've been replaced these days by clunky, chunky "ugly" sandals that provide a lot more support but aren't exactly the picture of daintiness. But leave it to fashion people to continue to mix things up — ballet flats have gotten the ugly-pretty makeover, and the reactions are divisive.
First things first: Heeled ballet flats are not new. Repetto — one of the most iconic ballet flats brands — has been making its Paname and Camille flat for years. But the new style has a higher vamp than traditional ballet flats and skips the bow string. Fashionista calls it a “glove shoe,” as does designer Martiniano Lopez Crozet, who created an Argentinian style with a shape that’s like a sexy disposable shoe cover. Rachel Comey has a version. Celine does, too. So does Maryam Nassir Zadeh. And, like Fashionista reports, they’re selling out in NYC.
But we all know that New Yorkers have a soft heart when it comes to ugly shoes. You can blame Bedford Avenue for the proliferation of Birkenstocks, clogs, Tevas — and let’s just say that the rest of the world is a little less forgiving.
Ugly-shoe fan Lena Dunham recently wore a pair of red ballet-flat heels while filming in Tokyo (another mecca for ugly-shoe loyalists) and Instagrammed them with a pair of socks. Admittedly a challenging combination, the reactions to the shoes were polarizing to the extreme, ranging from “I NEEEEEEED” to “Those are church lady shoes fo sho” to “Honey those shoes….” Unsurprisingly, similar hot-and-cold comments appear any other time these shoes show up, which leads us to suspect that they will actually be the biggest upcoming footwear trend, whether you like them or not. The trick to wearing these gracefully is to treat them like the wacky, minimalist shoe that they are, and to keep the rest of your outfit modern, lest you start having too much of the oft-feared art-teacher-vacationing-in-Sonoma-in-1994 vibe (unless that's your thing, of course — in which case, see you at the pool under the big cactus, girl). Also, like ballet flats, it's good to keep your ankles bare, your accessories simple, and to avoid prints, perforations, and studs — that heel is already enough of a statement.